Capsule Review: 2001 Nissan Frontier And The Two Who Got Away

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

“I have something to tell you, but you cannot, I repeat, must not do anything about it.”

“Is it something I want to hear?”

“Yes, it is. But you have to swear.”

“Okay. I swear. Now tell me.”

“Maro is getting a divorce.” Oh. Maro. I remember you, swinging your legs, your perfect profile and staggeringly voluptuous figure backlit by the sun, and I remember you seated next to me, so long ago, in that little gold Nissan truck. Do you remember me?

It was a decade ago. I’d walked away from a business I founded in 1999, leaving my 2000 Saab 9-3 company car with the company. Although it was my company car, I’d had to sign on the lease paperwork when we got it, and that would eventually come back to haunt me in a rather terrifying fashion… but that’s a story for another time. I owned two other cars; a Plymouth Voyager minivan, which I gave to the profoundly Asperger’s-esque partner in my new business, and a 1990 Plymouth Colt, which I gave to the same guy when he lost the keys to the Voyager shortly after forgetting where he’d parked said Voyager anyway. Somehow I’d gone from three cars and a motorcycle to just a motorcycle. I needed a vehicle. Something absolutely reliable and fiscally reasonable.

It also needed to carry some bicycles, because I was making a final run at BMX racing and freestyle. I’d discovered just the right cocktail of medication, meditation, and manipulation to let me ride at a skatepark for up to an hour before my knees fell apart and I ended up huddled in a corner dry-heaving from pain. I ran all these variables through my internal abacus and came up with the idea of a Nissan Frontier XE King Cab.

Finding just the right truck took some time. I wanted the plain black plastic bumpers and I didn’t want automatic transmission or any “popular packages”. I wanted a basic, five-speed, roll-up window truck with a bedliner. My final out-the-door price was about $14,100 from a sticker price in the high fifteens. Seemed like a decent deal.

Almost immediately, I was annoyed by the little Nissan. I hadn’t rolled-up my own windows in years and it turned out that I hated doing it. The truck was noisy and gutless. The seats were back-breakers on long trips to out-of-state BMX tracks. Worst of all, the stereo was abysmal, so I hired a friend of a friend to fix that situation. When the fellow arrived, he turned out to be a friendly, handsome twenty-four-year old fellow with… an absolute stunner of a wife.

Over the next few weeks, I put a few thousand dollars into the stereo and I inveigled my way into the lives of our new friends. They were broke but Mrs. Stereo Installer, whom we shall call Maro, had a taste for the finer things in life. Meanwhile, I had plenty of disposable income thanks to my economical truck purchase. It was a match made in Hell as we dined out night after night, dressed to the nines, first as a pair of couples and then, finally, as just her and me. Our spouses were annoyed by the whirlwind pace of our quasi-courtship. There was only room for two people in this relationship.

There was also really only room for two people in my little truck, particularly after it had a brace of “JL Audio” amplifiers installed. It sounded fantastic and I could almost overlook the idea that I was driving around a crummy little truck when the tunes were cranked. The 2001 Frontier was really just a mild facelift of the original post-Hardbody truck, and although I respected it for being the last genuine small import pickup, I was starting to think that I’d really enjoy something with a little more room for people and a little less rolling-of-the-windows.

A year and about twenty-six thousand miles into my life with the Frontier, I decided to shuck it off in favor of a little Land Rover Freelander. With a four-bike hitch rack, I could take my friends to the races. I’d stop rolling up my windows. I’d have more mobility in the weather; one of the annoying things about being a Midwestern BMX rider is that pretty much every day starts with a car trip somewhere, whether to a skatepark or an indoor track. The Rover dealer offered me the Freelander at invoice minus rebate, but only wanted to give me $6800 for the Nissan. What the hell. I handed it over. Little did I know that, had I held on the truck, I could probably sell it for close to that now. Good-condition Frontiers are worth good money.

Naturally, the new Rover required a much more comprehensive stereo installation… and the Discovery I bought just ten months after that required an even more comprehensive job. Night after night, my young friend sweated in the footwells of crookedly assembled British trucks while Maro and I shopped, dined, listened to music. We held her birthday party at my house. I wrote her resume. She called me and I walked outside to take the call.

One afternoon we were at the Coach store, I was making some ridiculous joke along the lines of, “If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it,” and the saleslady said to us, “You two are the perfect couple. I’ve never seen two young people so in love, and so wonderful together.”

“He isn’t my husband,” Maro replied, eyes downcast.

“Maybe he should be.” She looked at me. And I, dear reader, I laughed. Under no circumstances would I ever divorce. I laughed. With one chance to say something to a woman with whom I rather thought I might be in love, I laughed. Out of conceit, arrogance, nervousness, fear. We walked out silently. Later on that week, the phone rang. It was my installer. In a voice that was close to tears, he informed me that although he valued my business, he could no longer help me with my cars. I pulled the stereo equipment from my last Rover. It’s all still in my basement, packed up where I cannot reach it or think about it too much.

I should have kept the truck. I could use it now. A good small truck is always welcome. And now I hear that Maro is single again, but what would I say if I saw her again? Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Rob Finfrock Rob Finfrock on Dec 29, 2010

    "Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again." Jack, for about six years now I've tried in my head to come to terms with my own "Maro." Your line above says it better than I've been able to put together. Hopefully this won't be the final chapter in your tale.

    • Ekaftan Ekaftan on Jan 10, 2011

      A week ago I had lunch with a friend from 22 years ago. My Maro. I no longer liked her.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 30, 2010

    I agree with willman, that there are numerous good matches for us out there; it would be pretty hopeless to think that we have to wander over the earth looking for that "perfect one". I think the same is true of cars. Jack, I like your style. Like you, I've owned a Voyager. Although being married 23+ years to the same girl has been a great thing, I've never owned a Nissan, but may some day. Switching cars is much easier.

  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.